Pea seeds – to soak or not to soak …

Do you or don’t you soak your pea seeds before germination? Old wives’ tales say that you should (it speeds up and increases germination) or that you shouldn’t (it breaks through the embryonic seed case and allows disease in) or that you should soak them in paraffin (to prevent mice eating the seeds).

So we decided on a bit of an experiment – and one packet of smooth peas (hardy growers but not as sweet as the later wrinkled peas), a whole bunch of toilet roll inners and some compost later … a test!

Fifty-one seeds were soaked overnight in cold water. Fifty-one weren’t. Each seed was planted in a toilet roll inner and put in an unheated greenhouse. The soaked seeds had a blue wavy line drawn around their toilet roll inner for instant identification. That was nine days ago.

Today – two pea seedlings!

But both, rather worryingly, have appeared in the unsoaked tray. Perhaps there will be a better germination rate from the soaked seeds by the end of the experiment, but right now, it looks to me as if soaking pea seeds might be a waste of time. In the spirit of allotment innovation, I’ll keep you posted as the germination progresses (hopefully) and we’ll see what the final outcome is when we get to plant the seedlings out.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, December 22, 2008

5 Comments:

Blogger Z said...

That's very interesting. I have very light soil, but also a lot of mice in the garden, so I sow in the spring and don't overwinter seedlings (I'd never remember to look after them in the greenhouse). I don't soak the early sowing when the soil is still moist but I do the later one, as otherwise it's chancy whether there will be enough rain for the seeds to germinate. I'm talking about March versus April, not summer. It's dry in East Anglia!

I think it'd be worth retrying the experiment in the spring. I suspect that at this time of the year when it's very cold, soaked seeds might rot.

December 22, 2008 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Claire said...

I'll be interested to see what happens.

December 23, 2008 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger Cottage Smallholder said...

I love fresh peas!

Do hope that you had a happy Christmas. All the best for a fruitful 2009!

December 25, 2008 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger Slice of life said...

we didnt have much luck with this last year. Keep us posted of the out come please! then I will know for my plot to try again

January 9, 2009 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

The news so far - 17 peas germinated, 12 from the pre-soaked batch, 5 from the unsoaked one. And they're getting frozen every night in our unheated greenhouse but even so, every day that they actually get to defrost, a couple more peas are appearing.

January 9, 2009 at 10:11 AM  

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